Military police chief says TNI soldiers burned Papuan bodies to hide deaths

Lieutenant-General Dodik Widjanarko
Lieutenant-General Dodik Widjanarko ... named nine suspects over the killing of two Zanambani brothers. Image: CNN Indonesia

Pacific Media Watch newsdesk

The commander of the Indonesian Army Military Police (Danpuspomad), Lieutenant-General Dodik Widjanarko says TNI AD soldiers in Papua have committed acts of violence, including burning bodies to erase traces of their killing.

General Widjanarko said bodies were burned after in an incident that led to two civilians, Luther Zanambani and Apinus Zanambani, detained at the Sugapa Koramil, Papua, on 21 April 2020 dying without trace, reports CNN Indonesia.

The two brothers are reportedly the family of Pastor Yeremia Zanambani, who was shot dead in Intan Jaya, Papua, on September 19.

General Widjanarko described the chronology of the deaths of the two civilians.

The incident began when the Raider Battalion Unit 433 JS Kostrad carried out a sweeping operation on April 21. During the operation, they suspected the two brothers were part of an alleged “Armed Criminal Group” (KKB).

The KKB, or the Armed Separatist Criminal Group (KKSB), is how law enforcers in Indonesia label the militant group of the pro-independence Free Papua Organisation (OPM).

On the basis of this suspicion, several members who were on duty at that time immediately interrogated the two people at Sugapa Koramil Paniai Kodim, said General Widjanarko.

Yellow public truck
“During the interrogation, there was excessive action beyond the limits of propriety which resulted in Apinus Zanambani’s death and Luther Zanambani’s critical death at that time,” General Widjanarko told a media conference at the Army Puspom Building, Jalan Medan Merdeka Timur, Central Jakarta, on Wednesday.

At first the two civilians were about to be transferred to Kostrad’s Yonif PR 433 JS Kotrad by using a yellow public truck, said the general.

However, while riding a vehicle with police number B 9745 PGD in the middle of the journey, Luther Zanambani, who was previously critical, died.

General Widjanarko said that in order to erase any trace of the deaths of the two civilians, members of the Indonesian Army who were ainvolved in the incident tried to remove the two bodies.

“When arriving at Kotis Yonif Pararider 433 JS Kostrad to leave a trail, the victim’s bodies were then burned and the ashes dumped in the Julai River in Sugapa sub-district,” said the three-star TNI general.

Regarding the deaths of the two Zanambani brothers, General Widjanarko said that the Joint Army Police Headquarters Team together with the Cenderawasih XVII Military Command had named nine suspects.

The nine suspects, comprised two Paniai Kodim personnel and seven personnel from Yonit Pararider 433 JSD Kostrad.

Nine suspects named
“The suspects comprise two personnel from the Paniai Military Command, Major Inf ML and the FTP Special Officer as well as seven personnel from the Yonif Para Raider 433 JS Kostrad, namely Major Inf YAS, Lettu Inf JMTS, Serka B, Seryu OSK, Sertu MS, Serda PG, and Kopda MAY,” said General Widjanarko.

The suspects’ determination was carried out after examining 21 witnesses, both from the TNI and civilians, said the general.

The investigation was carried out on 19 members of the Indonesian Army comprising five personnel from the Paniai Kodim, 13 personnel from Yonif Para Raider 433 JS, and one personnel from Denintel Kodam XVII Cenderawasih.

Even though nine suspects had been named, General Widjanarko said that his party was still conducting an in-depth examination of several personnel of Yonif Para Raider 433 JS, which needed further investigation.

This article was translated by a Pacific Media Watch correspondent from the original report

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